Donald Glover Backing Andrew Yang Has the "Yang Gang" Going Wild

Yang 2020 - Publicity - H 2019
Peter Kiefer

The "Yang Gang" came out in force on Thursday to get a glimpse of the multihyphenate Glover endorsing the presidential candidate at a pop-up event on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, where signed hoodies and caps were available for purchase.

By midday Thursday, the line at the corner of Fairfax and Rosewood avenues had swelled to hundreds of people and wrapped itself around several city blocks. The queue had formed at around 6 a.m., which by Fairfax’s standards — home to Los Angeles' streetwear mecca Supreme and rapper Tyler the Creator’s Golf Wang — isn’t terribly impressive. But unlike normal events in L.A.’s hippest retail district, there were no Yeezys at stake. This crowd was here to get a glimpse of the newest, and one of the cleverest, political pairings of the democratic presidential primary so far: Donald Glover and Andrew Yang. 

"I’ve been a fan of Donald’s for a very long time," Yang told a press gaggle inside a shop on Fairfax where signed hoodies and hats were on sale with all proceeds going to Yang’s campaign. 

Less than 24 hours earlier, the multihyphenate Glover (who performs music under the stage name Childish Gambino) had announced to his 3.7 million Instagram followers that he would be participating in a pop-up event to raise money for Yang just hours before the candidate was set to participate at the sixth Democratic presidential debate at Loyola Marymount University. For the "Yang Gang," as his most devoted followers are known, Glover endorsing Yang was somewhat akin to Oprah backing Barack Obama in 2008. 

"Andrew Yang is the most exciting presidential candidate ever in our generation, and Donald Glover is, I think, the best artist of our generation. So it’s a culmination of incredible people getting together," said 32-year-old Ty Rucarean, who along with his brother Trace was one of the earliest to show up. Rucarean was speaking amid a carnivalesque atmosphere. All over, a series of Yang-related cheers were breaking out among the crowd while a man on stilts holding bejeweled red, white and blue Andrew Yang hand fans was giving out fist bumps and high fives. Nearby, a man in white Doc Martens and an Adidas jumpsuit was smoking a cigarette as he paced in front of the Flight Club sneaker shop. Every fourth person was wearing a "MATH" hat, which is Yang’s campaign slogan (Make America Think Harder.)

"It’s been awesome, man — I feel like we have a bunch of new best friends," said Trace. "The Yang Gang is super-nice and super-cool and everyone is here for all the right reasons. And tonight’s a huge night for [Andrew], and he’s trending up."

Yang first made waves when he launched his campaign with a pledge to create a universal basic income of $1,000 a month if elected president. Since then, a steady stream of strong debate performances coupled with a uniquely savvy digital campaign, that’s used meme-culture, podcasts and online forums like Reddit to broaden his base. That base is comprised largely of voters under the age of 45, the majority of which are male. Mention that Yang is polling in single digits and you can expect an earful. "The way that polling firms work, as far as I know is that they call people that have landlines and who are already registered Democrats," says 31-year-old Victor Ezra Randolph "But there’s a large swath of millennials and Gen-Xers who don’t have landlines. And the kind of support and virality you’re seeing here — well, this is how movements start."

Inside the small pop-up, Yang shook hands and chatted with the fans that were lucky enough to get a shot at the merchandise that was being sold for $1,000 (as a clever nod to Yang’s universal basic income of $1,000 pledge). Glover did not speak or address the press but could be seen in the back of the shop wearing a sweatshirt and an orange cap.

Asked what was his favorite Childish Gambino song, Yang responded with "This Is America," Glover’s genre-bending primal scream about gun violence and institutionalized racism. The song was released in a video rich in allusions that immediately went viral when it was released in May 2018. Yang promptly admitted that his choice was bit too predictable for a candidate whose campaign has been anything but.